10 of the Best About Us Pages and How to Make Your Own

Building a website is, in many ways, an exercise of willpower. It’s tempting to get distracted by the bells and whistles of the design process, and forget all about creating compelling content. 

It’s that compelling content that’s crucial to making inbound marketing work for your business.

So how do you balance your remarkable content creation with your web design needs? It all starts with the “About Us” page.

For a remarkable about page, all you need to do is figure out your company’s unique identity, and then share it with the world. Easy, right? Of course not. Your “About Us” page is one of the most important pages on your website, and it needs to be well crafted. This profile also happens to be one of the most commonly overlooked pages, which is why you should make it stand out.

Download our collection of awesome 'About Us' page examples here, and get tips  for making yours great, too. 

The good news? It can be done. In fact, there are some companies out there with remarkable “About Us” pages, the elements of which you can emulate on your own website.

By the end of this post, you’ll know what makes some of today’s best “About Us” pages so great, and how to make your own “About Us” or “About Me” page that shares your company’s greatness.

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10 of the Best About Us Page Examples

1. Yellow Leaf Hammocks

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It tells us a story.

When you have a great story about how your product or service was built to change lives, share it. The “About Us” page is a great place for it to live, too. Good stories humanize your brand, providing context and meaning for your product. What’s more, good stories are sticky — which means people are more likely to connect with them and pass them on.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks tells users about its product by describing how the hammocks empower artisan weavers and their families. The company breaks down different pieces of the story into sections that combine words and easily digestible graphics, painting a picture instead of big chunks of text. They’re clear about why they’re different: “Not a Charity,” the page reads. And then: “This is the basis for a brighter future, built on a hand up, not a handout.”

Every company has a story to tell, so break out your storytelling skills from that random English class you took years ago and put them to work on your “About Us” page. Using descriptive and emotive copy and gorgeous graphics, an “About Us” page with a story works harder for your business than a generic one.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks about us page

2. Eight Hour Day

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It’s human.

People tend to think that “About Us” pages have to sound formal to gain credibility and trust. But most people find it easier to trust real human beings, rather than a description that sounds like it came from an automaton. Trying to sound too professional on your “About Us” page results in stiff, “safe” copy and design — the perfect way to make sure your company blends in with the masses.

Instead, Eight Hour Day showcases the people behind the company and humanizes its brand. Introducing the founders by name and featuring the photos of them on the “About Us” page drives home the point that Nathan and Katie are — as they so astutely put it — “two individuals with a passion for creativity — creativity makes us happy.”

When you’re designing your “About Us” page, avoid industry jargon and replace it with an authentic voice — yours — to describe your product or service. Sure, it needs to be polished and free of errors, but it should always sound friendly and real.

Eight Hour Day about us page

3. Apptopia

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It skips the business babble.

We know — no industry jargon. If you think it makes you sound super smart on your “About Us” page, think again. People want and appreciate straight talk about what your business does. After all, if people can’t figure out what you do, how will they know they need your product or service?

So, skip the industry lingo — that’s what Apptopia does on its “About Us” page. The startup’s simple but polished language effectively communicates the company’s offering while still allowing the Average Joe to understand it.

Apptopia about us page
The moral of the story: Try to get rid of jargon on your “About Us” page whenever possible. Use short and punchy sentences to explain complex products and ideas in a way that isn’t patronizing, but rather, is empathetic.

4. Moz

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It’s humble.

Instead of following the classic “About Us” script and writing a few paragraphs about the company’s mission and origins, try something different — there are plenty of ways to make your brand more compelling to someone who doesn’t know about you.

Take Moz, for example. A lot has happened since it was founded in 2004, so the company chose to share those milestones using a fun and clean design that incorporates clear headers, concise blurbs, and little graphics to break up the text.

We especially love the humble references to how Moz received funding, how it switched its brand positioning — and most importantly, how it switched back to its original model. This speaks volumes to the value honesty and humbleness can play to your customers. Don’t be afraid to talk about your ups and downs; your customers will trust what you say that much more.

The story of Moz on its About Us page

5. Cultivated Wit

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It breaks the mold.

Yes, this post is about, well, “About Us” pages. But sometimes, you don’t always need to wait for users to get there in order to make a statement. That’s part of breaking the mold to showcase your company’s personality.

That’s exactly what Cultivated Wit — a creative agency and media company — does, with both an edgy name and an incredibly fun story told through video and parallax scrolling … right on its homepage.

Brand story of Cultivated Wit on its homepage

Below is the actual “About Us” page, which is a gem once you get there. But it’s great to see a company embrace its own brand of quirk throughout the site.

Cultivated Wit about us page

Even if you have a dedicated “About Us” page, there are plenty of ways to creatively showcase your company’s personality throughout your entire website. And yeah, that’s harder than filling a stock “About Us” template — but it can have a significant payoff for your brand.

6. Nike

Why the About Us Page Rocks: It knows its audience.

Nike might seem like a company that’s too big to inspire smaller businesses. You might even wonder if Nike even still has an “About Us” page. As a matter of fact, it does, and it hasn’t forgotten the company’s roots.

Nike began on the campus of the University of Oregon by the hand of the college’s track coach, Bill Bowerman. And even though he no longer works at the company, one of his beloved quotes still brands the bottom of Nike’s “About Us” page below: “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

This bold sentence, referenced by the asterisked “Athlete” in the words right above it, sheds important light on Nike’s audience. The brand may be big today, but Nike is all about the rising stars — who Nike depends on to, according to the rest of its “About Us” page, “expand human potential.”

The takeaway for marketers? Know your audience, and make it obvious to that audience the instant they read about you on your website.

Nike about us page

7. Refinery29

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It tells you what’s most important.

Here’s another instance where any area of your website — not just the “About Us” page — is an opportunity to break the mold.

Many companies add just a simple mission statement or company profile, but people often don’t want to ready a wall of text explaining what you do. So, Refinery29 broke it down to convey the intangible qualities that are tough to include in a basic “About Us” page.

Although Refinery29 does introduce its page with a description of its business, its goes out on a bang — four bangs, to be exact. The organization is on a “mission,” sure, but there’s also an “essence” of Refinery29, a “promise” it keeps, and a “vibe” it gives off.

These aren’t company traits you’d think to include when starting out, but they’re what your customers often make gut decisions on when buying.

Refinery29 about us page

8. Marie Catribs

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It’s unexpected.

There’s a reason why these examples are exceptional — “About Us” pages aren’t always the most riveting parts of a company’s website. In fact, they often look like an afterthought. But even if you don’t have budget for juicy graphics, video, or parallax scrolling, there are other ways to make your “About Us” page unexpected with the copy alone.

Marie Catrib’s is a restaurant, so you might think their “About Us” page would be your typical “here’s how we started, here’s what we believe in, and here’s our food” story. Marie Catrib’s “About Us” page does tells us that — but it does so in an unconventional way. Immediately, the user’s eyes are drawn to a header that says, “It’s okay to make a mess, experiments can lead to beautiful things.” Quite philosophical, for a place to have dinner.

But next comes the story about the owner, which starts in an unexpected way — “It’s hard to imagine, but at one time Marie was banned from the family kitchen.” A line like that draws in the audience, because we know it’s not going to be typical.

Marie Catribs about us page

So, how will you use copy to really draw readers in? It’s amazing what impression you can make on site visitors just by creatively telling your story with words alone.

9. Bulldog Skincare

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: It’s lovable and memorable.

What’s the difference between “average” marketing and lovable marketing? It’s the difference between creating generic webpages that provide great information, but in a straightforward, black-and-white kind of way — versus creating webpages that provide great information and are infused with color, personality, and stay true to a company’s unique brand voice. When you create lovable marketing, you can start a movement of brand evangelists and advocates who will help you grow.

Where does this fit into a company’s “About Us” page? The folks at Bulldog, a men’s skincare company that was named for the colloquial “man’s best friend” — a dog — could have typed up a few paragraphs about where the brand came from and how they were one of the first in the space to redefine and eliminate stereotypes around men’s grooming. But that text alone would have been a bit, well, average.

Instead, the “About Us” page is pithy, colorful, and leads with the lovable mug of an adorable bulldog — fitting the name and the brand. And it states the purpose of the products — to help customers from waking up with the (admittedly adorable) wrinkly face you see when you visit Bulldog’s website.

Bulldog Skin Care for Men about us page

Play on your own words — it’s okay to have fun and pun with your brand, as it helps to inject personality and humor into your “About Us” page. It primes visitors for a story in a way that makes them immediately feel something. That’s how you create memorable, lovable marketing.

10. Doomtree

Why the “About Us” Page Rocks: Its shows, tells, and has a soundtrack.

One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words, according to Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey. But what about audio and visual, too, all combined with a really cool story? Well, that’s one way to tell your story in an engaging way — through multimedia.

Doomtree is built on a bit of an innovative concept: That a group of talented artists can each have thriving solo careers, but can still come together on a regular basis to create great music. It’s not a band — it’s a crew. It’s an unconventional concept with an equally interesting backstory that “started as a mess of friends in Minneapolis, fooling around after school, trying to make music without reading the manual.” And as soon as you arrive on Doomtree’s ‘About Us’ page, you’re greeted with big, bold photos of those friends.

Doomtree band about us page

As you scroll down, users are treated to even more interaction with the crew’s tracks and music videos. That makes sense, because it gives visitors an instant sample of Doomtree’s product. What’s more, the entire “About Us” page is responsive, including the video. That’s important — not only because it offers site visitors a great mobile experience, but also for Google search ranking — especially now that such mobile usage has surpassed desktop.

Doomtree band mobile page

How to Write an About Page

It’s tough to establish one all-encompassing template for your “About Us” page — there are just so many ways you can go about telling your company story. But, per the real “About Us” pages we’ve just highlighted, there are some steps you should keep in mind when getting started.

Here are five steps to writing an “About Us” page based on some of the things that impressed us about the examples above.

1. Establish a Mission Statement

Your “About Us” page can and will be much longer than a single mission statement, but in order to draw people in, you need to succinctly state your goal in the industry up front. What are you here to do? Why should your website visitors care?

2. Outline Your Company Story

You might not have a long history of changes and growth your company has endured (yet), but it’s a nice touch to talk about where you came from in your “About Us” page. So, isolate the milestones prior your company’s founding, and use them to give readers some backstory on your current venture.

3. State Your ‘Aha!’ Moment

Every good company was founded on an idea — something the current marketplace might not yet offer. What was your idea? Use this “Aha!” moment as a pivot point when telling your company story. What was a challenge you faced while developing your company? How did this challenge or discovery shape what you are today?

4. Explain Who You Serve

As much as you want as many eyeballs on your “About Us” page as possible, you won’t do business with every single one of them. That’s why it’s crucial that you identify and mention your core customer. Who should care you exist? Which eyeballs are you here to serve?

5. Describe Your Values

Customers want to be treated like human beings. For that to happen, they need to feel that they’re being treated by human beings. When finishing your “About Us” page, describe who you are as a person or a team, and what your personal values are. What’s your company culture like? What bigger picture in life drives your business?

An LED lightbulb maker might sell 10 different lamp styles, for example, but that might not be the most important characteristic to its primary audience. Maybe this lightbulb developer was founded on a commitment to environmental protection, and every bulb the company makes was built by people who are dedicated to making the world more energy-efficient.

Keep in mind a secondary audience of your company’s “About Us” page consists of your future employees. This is another reason describing your personal values is a good idea — the key to your job candidates’ hearts is to show them you have one too. 

At this point, we hope that creating an “About Us” page doesn’t seem like a daunting task — rather, we hope you’re ready to have some fun with it. With a good story to tell, creative copy, humility, and digestible visuals, you’re on your way to an eye-catching user experience.

Even better? You’re becoming part of the exception — and standing out from a sea of “About Us” pages. What makes you different? We’re eager to learn more … about you.

Want more inspiration? Check out 16 inspiring examples of beautiful blog design.

free about us page examples

 
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5 Things to Know Before Mark Zuckerberg’s European Parliament Testimony

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is due to testify before members of European Parliament (MEPs) tomorrow, in an appearance that was confirmed by President Antonio Tajani on Twitter last week.

Zuckerberg is due to appear before the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), where he’ll likely be asked questions about protecting the personal data of EU consumers, as well as Facebook’s role in election processes and integrity.

The session — which is scheduled to begin at roughly 6:15 PM local time in Brussels (12:15 PM EST) — was speculated and predicted by many in the weeks leading up to Tajani’s confirmation.

In addition to some outlets reporting that such a meeting was in the works, several events took place soon before and after the announcement that indicated another appearance from Zuckerberg before legal officials, ranging from official statements on Facebook’s new initiatives, to changes within its organizational chart.

Before Zuckerberg makes his next official appearance, here are some key things to know.

5 Things to Know Before Mark Zuckerberg’s European Parliament Testimony

1. The testimony was originally scheduled as a closed-door session.

Shortly after Tajani’s announcement, Bloomberg reported that Zuckerberg’s initial appearance before EU lawmakers would take place behind closed doors, and that European Parliament would schedule a separate, public hearing with representatives from Facebook that may not necessarily include Zuckerberg himself.

While a secondary hearing has yet to be scheduled as of publishing this piece, Tajani announced this morning that Zuckerberg agreed to permit the session to be live-streamed — likely due to pressure from several parties, including MEPs.

In our own survey of 313 consumers in the UK — which was conducted prior to the announcement that the session would be live-streamed — 61% of respondents said that they believed the testimony should be public.

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Verhofstadt has since reversed his statement on the matter, after the decision to cast the session. However, the degree to which the event will be “public” is arguable, as it’s not clear if members of the press or other concerned public parties will be permitted to attend.

2. Not long before the testimony was originally announced, Facebook’s executive org chart had a major shakeup.

On May 8 — just over a week before Tajani’s confirmation that Zuckerberg would be testifying before MEPs — Recode reported a major shuffle to its executive organizational chart, with changes made among the leadership at WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and the core Facebook app.

Here’s a visual peek at the overall changes:

In addition to the general re-org of leadership within existing Facebook teams and umbrella brands, a new team has been created to focus solely on privacy products, such as the Clear History feature announced at F8. 

When word of the executive shuffle first arrived, we anticipated that an official appearance from Zuckerberg could be imminent — especially with the creation of an entire division dedicated to one of the issues (privacy) for which Facebook has received the most scrutiny, and continues to answer the most questions.

But privacy isn’t the only topic for which Facebook has faced particularly heightened scrutiny — which brings up another important item to keep in mind going into tomorrow’s session.

3. The day after the testimony was announced, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council for its election integrity efforts.

Facebook has also continued to receive criticism and questions about the weaponization of its platform by foreign actors to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Since then, consumer and authorities alike have been especially vigilant of the spread of misinformation and hate speech on the site, especially where divisive issues that often cause contention during election seasons are concerned.

That prompted Facebook to release its first-ever Community Standards Enforcement Report, which includes a preliminary inventory of rule-violating content and the action Facebook took on it between October 2017 to March 2018.

But it also led Facebook — whether strictly for appearances or out of genuine concern over the weaponization of its platform — to partner with outside experts to boost its election integrity efforts, which Zuckerberg is likely to be questioned on by MEPs.

To help combat “fake accounts – the source of many bad ads and a lot of misinformation,” Facebook has partnered with nonprofit Atlantic Council, whose mission includes “stimulating dialogue and discussion about critical international issues in the Administration, the Congress, corporate and nonprofit sectors, and the media among leaders in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Americas.” 

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab — the primary team partnering with Facebook — released a statement about the collaboration, in which it elaborated on that mission. Specifically, it pointed to the importance of closing the “information gap between governments, tech companies, and media in order to solve for challenges like disinformation.”

It was an interesting statement to make the day after it was first revealed that Zuckerberg’s session with MEPs would be a closed-door one, limiting the very transparency between governments and tech companies to which the statement alluded.

It also came after a recent and repeated refusal from Facebook of requests from UK Parliament for Zuckerberg to appear — which is another key item to note before tomorrow’s session.

4. UK Parliament has requested an appearance from Zuckerberg repeatedly — and Facebook has continued to decline.

On May 1 — just over two weeks prior to Tajani’s announcement — House of Commons Culture Committee chairman Damian Collins issued an open letter to Facebook UK Head of Public Policy Rebecca Stimson, stating that “the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for [Zuckerberg] to appear when he is next in the UK.” 

In response to that letter, Stimson wrote a response on May 14th indicating that “Mr. Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time.”

Zuckerberg’s resolve to not appear before UK Parliament raises several questions. While other Facebook executives have undergone questioning from the committee, like CTO Mike Schroepfer, Zuckerberg himself has steadfastly refused to appear, despite committing to back-to-back U.S. congressional hearings, as well as tomorrow’s testimony before MEPs.

So, why the resistance to testifying before UK MPs?

One possible reason is that Zuckerberg’s appearances before U.S. lawmakers were voluntary — as will be his testimony before MEPs — whereas UK Parliament has reached the point of issuing a formal summons.

“It’s not entirely clear why Zuckerberg is resisting appearing before UK members of parliament,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social media editor. “We know that the tone from the UK has been a fairly vindictive one, and we also know Zuckerberg (and Facebook) doesn’t want to open the door to negotiation and questioning from every governing body. They want a free and independent Facebook, which means answering the bare minimum number of questions necessary to keep it that way.”

5. The testimony is taking place three days before the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in the EU.

This Friday — three days after Zuckerberg’s scheduled testimony before MEPs — the GDPR comes into force in the EU, marking a major shift in European data privacy laws and consumer rights.

Whether the timing was deliberate is somewhat speculative, but it appears to be slightly more than coincidental — at least on the part of European Parliament. Facebook has received criticism for its approach to the GDPR, and Zuckerberg has frequently evaded questions about how he would apply similar protections to non-EU consumers, or backpedaled on previous answers to them.

Many wonder how these imminent regulations — which are much stricter than those, if any, in the U.S. — will influence MEPs’ lines of questioning tomorrow, and if those questions will reflect the tougher nature of European laws than those in the U.S.

The general consensus seems to be that, yes — they will. When we asked 302 consumers in the UK if they believe MEPs will be harder on Zuckerberg during tomorrow’s hearing than U.S. lawmakers were in April, 48% responded with “yes.”

UK_Do you think members of European Parliament will be tougher on Mark Zuckerberg during his testimony tomorrow than U.S. lawmakers were_302

In a survey of 303 U.S. consumers, meanwhile, 53% of respondents had the same answer.

US_Do you think members of European Parliament will be tougher on Mark Zuckerberg during his testimony tomorrow than U.S. lawmakers were_303

“My sense is that the big difference between the EU and the U.S., is that consumers in the U.S. kind of don’t care,” says HubSpot VP of Marketing Jon Dick. “We just assume we’re being taken advantage of, and are okay with it.”

The heightened level of concern among European consumers, meanwhile, could be reflected in a tougher line of questioning from MEPs tomorrow.

“Consumers in the EU care. They want proper notice and controls, and they want companies to be held to account if they violate their data privacy,” Dick continues. “So my expectation is that EU Parliment will be far tougher on [him] than the U.S. Congress was.”

We’ll be following tomorrow’s testimony. According to a tweet from Carlo Corazza, a spokesperson for Tajani, the event will be live-streamed on European Parliament’s website

SEO Isn’t the Only Way to Drive Traffic. Here Are 6 Alternative Strategies.

As marketers, we invest a lot of our time and energy into SEO.

Considering that Google receives over 66,000 searches every second, we’d be stupid not to.

But when it comes down to it, Google and other search engines are just one of the many ways you can drive traffic to your website.

In fact, depending on your target audience and competition, Google may not even be your best traffic source.

Take Upworthy, for example.

This site, which has a reputation for sharing feel-good viral videos, gets almost 43% of their traffic from social and less than 19% from search.

Groups of consumers all use the web differently.

Some like to get their content from friends or influencers on social.

A few depend on their trusted newsletters to tell them what content they need to read.

Others use an alternative search engine like YouTube or even Facebook.

To prove that you don’t need Google to drive traffic to your website, here are six alternatives that can help boost your visits.

  1. Create a YouTube channel

  2. Start conversations on social

  3. Partner with influencers

  4. Take advantage of your email subscribers

  5. Provide assistance on forums and question sites

  6. Take advantage of guest posting

1. Create a YouTube channel

YouTube has 1.5 billion active users each month, making it the world’s second-largest social platform.

With 1.5 billion active users each month, YouTube is the world’s second-largest social platform.

active users on social platforms 2017

Over 30 million users log on to watch a total of 5 billion videos each and every day.

These numbers are massive.

However, these numbers still don’t rival Google, which processes about 3.5 billion searches per day.

So, how can you drive even a fraction of the traffic with YouTube that you could with Google?

Well, the beauty of YouTube is that it allows you to share videos.

While Google does display YouTube videos as part of its results lists (Google does, after all, own YouTube), the results aren’t quite the same.

In order to appeal and reach these video-lovers, you need to create YouTube content.

Because YouTube reaches more people from the ages of 18-49 than any cable network, this is particularly true if you’re marketing to younger generations.

youtube 18-49 age demographic reaches more than network or broadcast television

Gen Z’s love affair with YouTube runs especially deep.

In fact, 50% of Gen Z-ers told AdWeek they wouldn’t be able to live without the sharing site.

They also shared why.

For Gen Z-ers, YouTube is more than just a video-sharing site. Look at all of the things that they go to YouTube for:

generation z social media survey

If Gen Z’s love for videos continues as they grow older and start making new purchasing decisions, this may be a major game-changer for marketing in years to come.

Uploading videos to YouTube allows you to appear in front of customers who use the site like a traditional search engine.

Then, with appropriately-placed links, you can drive those users back to your website.

Let’s take a look at how GoPro’s YouTube channel does this.

As one of the most popular YouTube channels around, GoPro uses their high-quality videos to show what their product is capable of doing.

However, simply uploading videos doesn’t drive sales.

That’s why they also make it easy for customers to get from their YouTube channel to a product page.

Here, we have a video shot users shot with the GoPro HERO6:

GoPro hero6 YouTube video

Right within the first couple lines of the description, viewers have a link that will bring them straight to the product page for the GoPro HERO6.

Interested customers can check out what the new camera is capable of, then easily make their way over to the GoPro website to get additional details or make a purchase.

And this isn’t the only way GoPro pushes traffic to their website.

You can also find a link to their website and their social media profiles within their cover image.

gopro hero image

This gives YouTube users who land on the company’s channel an opportunity to get to their website quickly.

You can also add links to your website within your actual video content.

YouTube even offers features that allow users to create interactive video ads.

interactive video advertisement options in youtube

These features display either over the video itself or at the end of a video, prompting viewers to make the next move.

You’ll see from this chart that both call-to-action overlays and auto end screens help drive traffic to your website.

Here’s an example of a call-to-action overlay from a HubSpot video.

hubspot youtube video has link

YouTube features the link right within the middle of the video. HubSpot timed it perfectly so that it appears when the viewer has a thorough enough understanding of inbound marketing to start feeling enticed.

Now, let’s compare this to an auto end screen.

Here’s an example from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

jimmy fallon youtube end screen

This presents the viewer with a number of different options when they’ve completed a video. It includes an offer to head to the NBC website to download the show’s app.

When using either of these interactive features, be sure to provide a clear and direct value to your watcher.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t want to plaster over your video with links to dozens of content pieces.

Instead, focus on just one or two that truly support the contents of your video.

2. Start conversations on social

If you do it correctly, social can rival Google as a traffic source.

According to Sprout Social, 48% of Millennials and 48% of Gen X-ers followed a brand on social media in Q1 of 2017.

which generations are following brands on social

This means you have less noise to cut through to get to your target audience.

Additionally, social provides you with an opportunity to engage and entertain – something you’ll struggle to do on a search engine.

When social users scroll through their timelines and news feeds, they’re looking for just about anything that will pique their interest.

If you’re capable of providing something high-quality and interesting, they’ll click through to your site to check out more.

However, it’s important to recognize how social is changing for brands.

In 2017, social accounted for 25.6% of all site visits.

social vs search referral traffic

But this number is actually down from past years.

From the same study, we can see that from about the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2017, social was outperforming search for driving traffic.

Unfortunately, the changes to the Facebook algorithm led to serious declines in organic reach on the platform.

Compared to the first half of 2017, Facebook saw about a 9% drop in social media referrals in the second half of the year.

social media referral web traffic

However, one social site’s loss is another’s gain.

While Facebook saw a large dip at the end of 2017, both Pinterest and Instagram saw some pretty significant jumps.

Regardless of the social networks you choose to target, you want to provide meaningful and valuable information.

Remember that users log onto social to engage with their friends – not to have someone sell them something.

You want to find ways to engage your user while they’re still on the platform.

Buzzfeed Tasty does an excellent job at this.

buzzfeed tasty facebook video

Within their Facebook post, they include it all.

They created a video to grab attention.

They have friendly messages that establish the viewer as their friend.

And they include not one but two links that can either push the user to buy or to check out the recipe from the video.

And they do all of that without making it feel overwhelming!

This tactic has gained the Tasty Facebook page serious attention – almost 95 million followers!

To replicate this for your own audience, know your audience and create social content that blends seamlessly into their timelines.

Another way to get a conversation started is to use Twitter threads.

Twitter threads allow you to share insights, tips, and thoughts that connect by replying to yourself – and they have the power to bring you viral attention.

Check out what happened to travel blogger Hey Ciara.

On January 1st, she started this thread.

cheap flights twitter thread

With this one thread alone, Ciara gained over 13,000 new Twitter followers, 6,000 new Instagram followers, and a 10x increase in her blog traffic.

Threads like these provide a distinct value to followers in a relatable way.

After sharing her secrets, Ciara drops a link to a blog post on her website containing more information.

ciara johnson tweets blog post

Though the engagement with the link is significantly less than the first post, it was still able to drive traffic.

She already established authority with her followers in the thread. They trust her and know that she has information worth sharing. That gives them a reason to click on the link.

Creating a Twitter thread typically takes minimal effort. However, you want to be prepared to keep the momentum going.

Know the direction you’re going to take before you begin and be ready to share images, videos, or links that support your claims.

3. Partner with influencers

There are a lot of scams on the web, making shoppers wary about who they choose to purchase from.

If they’ve never heard of a business, they’re not going to pull out their credit cards after seeing just one ad.

Before they’re ready to shop, they need to trust you.

Unfortunately, it takes time to build trust organically.

However, you can speed up that process by working with influencers.

Almost nine out of ten individuals say that they trust online recommendations as much as personal recommendations.

youtubers and online recommendations

Influencer marketing gives your content a “stamp of approval” from someone your audience already values. This dramatically cuts down on the trust-building process.

There are two main ways that you can get in touch with influencers.

First, you can use the more traditional pathway of having influencers share sponsored posts.

Here’s an example of a sponsored post from Emma Blackery.

emma blackery sponsored tweet

The National Citizen Service (NCS) sponsored the ad. In the UK, they offer kids from 15-17 years old a camp-like, professional development opportunity.

By sharing this post, Emma is bringing awareness to NCS while also vouching for its validity.

She also includes a link to the company’s homepage, encouraging her followers to check out the organization more.

Within just five hours, Emma’s post gained over 480 likes, 38 retweets, and 24 comments.

Compared to the handful of likes NCS’s own posts get, this kind of attention is huge.

Paying for advertisements can give you more control as a brand.

If you’re a small business or you have a limited marketing budget, it might not be right for you.

But even if you don’t have money to invest in influencer marketing, you can appeal to influencers for free by featuring them in your own content.

Posts like this one from Comm100 are a great way to connect with several influencers at once.

customer service experts on twitter

This not only gives you free promotion, but it can also help you create long-term relationships with influencers and experts you might want to partner with in the future.

If you choose to use this kind of content, have realistic expectations.

It isn’t likely that each influencer you mention will share the post, especially if they already have a large following.

However, reaching out to each expert to let them know that you’ve featured them might help you get a few new shares and a boost in web traffic.

One way of reaching out is to present a quote.

In this Twitter post from Jitesh Patil, he pulled a quote from Robbie Richards and then tagged him in the tweet.

jitesh patil tweet

This gained Robbie’s attention, so he retweeted it to his own audience.

This kind of outreach makes it easy for the influencer to share your content. With just one click of a button, they’ve done their job.

You can also reach out via direct message. This is one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s favorite ways to network.

According to Gary, “the key is to connect first, provide value, and THEN given the right opportunity presents itself, ASK.”

This kind of relationship can help you establish long-term relationships with influencers.

4. Take advantage of your email subscribers

The conversation about whether or not email is dying has been happening for years.

Many markers are quick to support social or mobile apps over email marketing.

However, in Adobe’s 2017 Consumer Email Survey Report, they found that email was the preferred form of contact for 61% of survey participants.

preferred method to contact brands

In fact, email was the only contact method that actually improved between 2016 and 2017.

But user preference isn’t the only thing that email marketing has over other contact methods.

The average click-through rate is also much higher.

For email, the average click-through rate is 3.42%.

While this might seem low, the average click-through rate for Facebook Ads is only 0.90%.

This means that you’re much more likely to get web traffic from your email subscribers than your social profiles.

And that starts with personalization.

Here’s an example of personalization from LinkedIn.

top job picks for you

LinkedIn takes a user’s location, job title, and qualifications and provides unique job recommendations for them.

This goes far beyond simply changing the name at the top of a message. For best results, you need to personalize the email’s body, too.

According to research, personalizing email bodies has a dramatic effect on open rates and click-through-rates.

Open rates are almost 7% higher with a personalized email body, and click-through rates jump by over 1.3%.

benefits of personalization in email body

You can also personalize the sender name for even stronger click-through-rate results.

Take this example from HubSpot.

personalizing email sender name experiment

When they sent a message from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot,” there was a 0.50% higher open rate and 0.25% higher click-through rate than when they sent the email from just “HubSpot.”

For HubSpot, this meant that a personalized sender generated 292 more clicks.

To improve click-through rates even further, you also want to optimize your emails for mobile.

In the study from Adobe that we looked at above, we see that users are much more likely to check their personal email on a smartphone than a desktop or laptop.

devices used for checking work and personal email

Make it easy for your email subscribers to get back to your website regardless of the screen they’re viewing your message on.

Use CTA buttons rather than in-text links and keep your messages short and to the point.

Provide enough information to pique your reader’s interest, but your end goal should always be to push to subscribers back to your site.

5. Provide assistance on forums and question sites

People have a lot of questions.

And they don’t exclusively turn to Google to get their answers.

Users turn to forums and question sites.

Participating in conversations on sites like Reddit for Quora can help you attract individuals looking for answers beyond what Google can provide.

With over 330 million users, Reddit is the fourth most-visited website in the US.

top four most popular websites in the united states as of may 2018

Although Google, YouTube, and Facebook outrank the site in terms of popularity, Reddit beats them all based on the average amount of time that users spend on the site.

Reddit can be a great place to promote your site. However, you need to be strategic with how you go about it.

Most subreddits have strict rules about what you can and can’t say in their comments.

Each subreddit has a moderator. If you post the wrong material, they’ll delete your post and potentially even ban your account.

Users turn to forums like Reddit for help – not to have someone sell to them.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use Reddit to drive traffic to your site.

One of the best ways to do it successfully is through an “ask me anything” session, or an AMA.

Here’s an example of a successful AMA from Student Loan Hero.

student loan hero reddit AMA one way to get web traffic

While the post is promoting the business, it’s more focused on providing Reddit users with valuable information about paying off debt.

By answering questions, Student Loan Hero is able to improve trust with Reddit users and get them interested in the brand.

They also find ways to link to their content and tools as they answer questions.

Here is an example.

student loan hero AMA question and answer

Student Loan Hero isn’t using this platform as a way to spit out ads.

Instead, they’re framing their content to fit the unique needs of each individual asking questions.

If you’re trying to be spammy on Reddit, users will be quick to call you out.

However, you can still see a lot of success from the platform by making your value clear.

Jeff Callahan, creator of one of the most successful Reddit posts, says that success on the platform begins with a “non-clickbaity” title.

He begins his post by sharing who he is and how he relates to the other users. Then, he communicates exactly what he has to say and why he’s credible enough to say it.

recovering awkward person headline reddit post

He then follows these same ideas throughout his post, always relating back to the user before providing tips or insights he can back up with personal experience.

If you use it wisely, Reddit can be a great place to bring visitors to your website.

You can also use Quora, which has 200 million unique monthly visitors, to answer questions from potential audience members.

Here’s an example of how I responded to a Quora question.

neil patel answers quora question

Like Reddit, Quora allows you to engage with individuals who are asking questions. Answering questions helps you prove your value to them before they head to your website.

This can encourage more traffic to your page.

Kevin Lee, founder of Product Manager HQ, attributes his business’s start and growth to Quora.

According to his post about how Quora changed his life, Kevin explains that Quora brought thousands of new subscribers to his blog.

He says that people in public have even recognized him from his Quora answers.

If you’re in a niche industry, there are other forums you may want to take advantage of.

For example, marketers may want to become active on Inbound.org while lawyers should check out Avvo.

6. Take advantage of guest posting

Guest posting can be a powerful way to bring new traffic to your website.

About 57% of business bloggers use guest posting as part of their content strategy.

Some major brands even used guest blogging to get their platforms off the ground.

For example, Buffer used guest blogging to grow their site to 100,000 users in their first nine months.

When looking for guest posting opportunities, you want to find sites that are within your niche but aren’t direct competitors.

Hosting a post on another website puts your content in front of a new audience, driving new leads back to your page.

Check out this example of a guest post on Entrepreneur.

why entrepreneurs must follow their calling entrepreneur article

As you can see, Dan Dowling, the guest author in this example, has links to his Facebook page, Twitter account, and website homepage.

Guest posting on other websites isn’t the only way to use the strategy to drive traffic.

You can also feature guest posts on your own site.

This not only gives you a bit of a break in your content schedule, but it also encourages guest posters to share links to your page.

Here’s an example from ProBlogger.

how to establish your brand on pinterest article

ProBlogger benefits from this post because the author, Larry Alton, will want to advertise that they’re featuring him on their site.

Each time Larry promotes the piece, ProBlogger gets a new wave of traffic.

But blogging isn’t your only option.

You can also appear on podcasts or webinars to share your opinion and expertise.

Here’s an example from SEMrush’s Search Marketing Scoop with David Bain.

search marketing scoop podcast

In this episode, both Barry Schwartz, News Editor at Search Engine Land, and Richard Fergie, a consultant at E-Analytica, jump on the podcast to talk about paid and organic search.

These types of partnerships typically take more time, but they can provide serious returns in the end.

You want to think of what podcasts or webinars your audience may be engaging with that aren’t your direct competitors.

Conclusion

You don’t need Google to drive traffic to your website.

Sure, it helps.

But it shouldn’t be your only traffic source.

In fact, for the most success, you should have multiple pathways bringing new traffic to you.

Use these six traffic-generating sources as a starting point for diversifying how you bring in new visitors.

Pay close attention to your customers and target audience.

If they’re not responding to a particular pathway, don’t waste your time.

When you provide what they’re looking for in an avenue they’re already engaging with, traffic will flock to your page.

What are some of the best traffic sources for your website outside of SEO?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Video or Images: Which Performs Better in Facebook Ads?

“Video marketing” is one of today’s hottest industry buzzwords — and, of course, we at Animoto agree that video is a priceless tool when it comes to engaging your audience, sharing stories and information, promoting products and services, piquing interest, and more.

But we also know that video in and of itself isn’t a magic bullet. You should never go into any marketing initiative assuming what’s going to work. You need to test to find out what works for your company, your audience, and your objectives.

To that end, we set out to take Animoto’s HubSpot-inspired video templates for a spin. We ran thousands of dollars worth of tests with Facebook Ads Manager to see how video stood up to other types of content — when it worked, when it didn’t, and how to optimize its performance.

We were interested in answering these questions:

  • Do videos really perform better than images or links?
  • When it comes to videos, which types perform best?

Here’s what we found out.

Videos or images? Which perform better?

The first question we set out to answer was: do videos really perform better than images in Facebook ads?

The answer: it really depends on the video or image!

Test 1: Video vs. Blog Post Meta-Image

We started with a test driving traffic to a post on the HubSpot blog, 22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Brand Taglines. We tested a video teaser, with a taste of what the blog post had to offer, against a simple shared-link posting that auto-pulled the meta-image from the blog post.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1526673893&f=jnFhuISwxQvBENaRFXZlsw&d=0&m=p&r=360×360+480×480+720×720&volume=100&start_res=720×720&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Vs.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 12.05.20 PM

The Results

What did we find? The video outperformed the image … by a lot. The video got 20 percent more clicks than the image.

But wait, we asked ourselves. Was that really the best image to promote this blog post? What did a cityscape really say about catchy slogans and brand taglines? We went back to the drawing board on our next test to see if video would still perform better than image if the image was optimized.

Test 2: Video vs. Optimized Image

For our next test, we decided to promote a different HubSpot blog post, How to Recover From a Bad Sales Call. This time we tested two different video variations — one listicle, featuring three of the tips from the post, and one with more or a narrative appeal that speaks to the viewers. Check out both in the following video:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1526678937&f=U2a6c8UagBfynvkMlmQweg&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

The two videos were run alongside an image test, but this time we pulled a relevant screenshot from the video that made it clear what people would get if they clicked through.

The Results

With an optimized image, things turned out a little differently. This time, the image actually beat one of the videos — the listicle. The image got more clicks at a lower cost than this video.

However, the narrative video won out in the end with the most clicks and a 3 percent lower cost per click. The narrative video had a 34 percent lower cost per click than the listicle.

Takeaway: It’s all about testing.

In the end, it turned out that videos don’t always perform best, and images don’t always perform best either. It really depends on the content. We saw image perform better than some videos, and videos perform better than some images. But testing different types of marketing collateral allowed us to figure out what type of ad and content would maximize ROI for the particular use case.

Optimizing Ad Creative

So if you’re embarking on a Facebook ad campaign, or really any type of social ad campaign, how do you ensure you’re getting started with optimized creative? We’ll break down some general rules to help you get started, based on the findings of our tests.

Optimizing Videos

First things first, we did learn a few things from our tests about what you can do to optimize the videos you’re creating for advertising:

  • Go square. Square videos take up 78 percent more space in the News Feed and have consistently outperformed landscape videos. In one of our tests, we created a video to promote a HubSpot blog post, 22 Handy Slack Hacks Everyone Should Know. We created square and landscape versions, and the square video performed better across the board, with a 50 percent lower cost per click and 45 percent more engagement.
  • Think about your objective. This is important. Your video needs to address this objective. If you want to tease a blog post, for instance, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear what the blog post is about and you’ll need to include a clear CTA letting them know where they can read more.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1526678921&f=djJwMrcFx18gTZzcxtMypg&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Optimizing Images

We also learned that an optimized image can do wonders for the success of your ad. Here are a few tips to help ensure your image is optimized:

  • Watch the text. Facebook ads may run with reduced impressions, or not at all, if too large a percentage of your image is covered by text. Use Facebook’s Image Text Check to make sure your image doesn’t exceed the limit. This is what we used to create the optimized image for our second test above.
  • Be clear. Make sure that the image makes clear what people will get when they click through to learn or read more. This’ll help ensure that the folks that are coming to your page are actually interested in the content and will help reduce bounce.
  • Be eye-catching. Choose something bright, clear, or unique to stand out in the News Feed.

But as we discovered, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to test –try a few different things, see what works, what doesn’t, and iterate.

Optimizing ROI with A/B testing

Whether or not you’ve used A/B testing in the past, thinking about testing in the context of video can be a lot to wrap your head around. There are all sorts of things to test, from CTA copy to colors, fonts, what photos and video clips you use, what story you tell, and everything in between. Test videos against images; test videos against other videos; test everything and improve your results over time.

What Variations to Test

Not sure which variations to test? Here are some suggestions:

  • Media variations: Try using different photos or video clips in a video to see which performs for you. Or, if you’re testing an image, try to optimize the image to suit your needs, as we did in the second test above. In this example, WV Skydivers tested two video variations—one starting with a photo and one starting with a video clip. The video clip variation reached 10K people, while the photo variation reached only 1.2K.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1526678904&f=XLc1t5A7XX9PpHlEwwedaQ&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

  • Text variations: Try a couple different CTAs or change up the text to present your video differently, as we did in the test of a narrative vs. a listicle.
  • Length: See if a short, medium, or long video gets the best results. We tested 0:15, 0:30, and 0:45 versions of the same video in one of our tests and the 0:30 video had a stronger click through rate. But we’ve seen instances where a long video has performed best and those where a super short looping clip has won, which is why testing is important!

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1526678883&f=eqpRMHvFqLKpzCsmbEr4PA&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

How to Set up A/B Tests

You can set up A/B tests in Facebook. To get started you’ll need a Facebook page, a Facebook Ads Manager account, and some ad variations — two or more videos, two or more images, or a combination of images and videos. Simply run two versions of your ad and be sure to keep everything the same except for the variation you are testing. This includes the ad objective, budget, target audience, and any copy that runs alongside your ad (unless the copy is the variation).

As you test, you’ll begin to understand what resonates with your audience and can hone your strategy going forward. By not assuming that one type of content will work best for your advertising you can start creating ads that perform.

Animoto and HubSpot recently joined forces to create a collection of video templates for business owners looking to create professional marketing videos to promote blog posts, boost event registration, or collect leads for a product.

15 of the Best Calligraphy Fonts You Can Download for Free

The right font can instantly improve the look of your marketing presentation, impress your client, or escalate your design from average to exceptional.

But it’s often tough to find a font that falls somewhere in-between classy and dramatic — particularly when you’re not willing to pay for an experienced calligrapher.

We’ve compiled 15 of the best calligraphy fonts we found online. These fonts are subtle, professional, and eye-catching. Best of all, they’re free, so you can download and try them all before picking your favorite.

Check out our list, if for no other reason than to see me try to describe fonts.

Most of these fonts are for personal use only, but some of them are available for commercial projects. Below each font, we’ll specify whether it’s free for personal or commercial use — however, if you’re considering using the font for commercial purposes, please read the font’s individual licensing agreement.

1. Alex Brush 

This font is classic and understated. It’s also legible and clear, with decent space in between each letter, so you can use the font even for dense paragraphs of text.

Download at: 1001 Free Fonts

Free for personal and commercial use.

2. Adreno Script Demo Regular

 

Adreno Script is more playful and fun than most of the other calligraphy fonts in the bunch, making it a good option when your design intent is more lighthearted.

Download at Urban Fonts

Free for personal use.

3. Balqis

If you’re designing an artsier project, like a book cover or presentation swag, this font is folksy and down-to-earth, and doesn’t appear too formal.

Download at: Free Design Resources

Free for personal and commercial use.

4. Bukhari Script

Bukhari Script is bold and fluctuates in shading, making it appear vintage and old-school. It’s a good font to use if you’re trying to invoke some nostalgia in your marketing.

Download at: Font Fabric

Free for personal and commercial use.

5. Champignon

This font is decorative and classically formal — you’d probably use this font for invitations, placeholders, or titles, rather than long paragraphs of text or a presentation.

Download at: Dafont

Free for personal and commercial use.

6. Easy November

The swoopy, exaggerated nature of Easy November makes it a great font for titles or branded items like calendars or stickers. Its eye-catching nature makes it appropriate for many different platforms.

Download at Font Space

Free for personal use.

7. Great Day

This font falls somewhere between retro and conservative, making it fitting for both professional presentations, or playful signs or titles. The spacing between each letter also makes it easier to read than some of the other calligraphy fonts.

Download at Font Space

Free for personal use.

8. Kristi

This is one of the more casual and spirited fonts in the mix, evoking memories of girls names in high school yearbooks, which could be ideal if you’re looking to add a personal or hand-written feel to your design.

Download at: Font Squirrel

Free for personal and commercial use.

9. Learning Curve Pro

If there was ever a font that mimicked a “Learn Cursive” activity book, this would be it. The simple, precise lines make it a good bet for any longform content you’re trying to spruce up, while remaining traditional.

Download at: Font Squirrel

Free for personal and commercial use.

10. Pinyon Script

This formal design echoes nineteenth century letter-writing styles, making it a tasteful option for formal posters, invitations, or namecards. This is a good font to use if your theme is more conservative.

Download at: 1001 Fonts

Free for personal and commercial use.

11. Ralph Lanok Future

Ralph Lanok Future is dramatic, and sleek. While it seems too theatrical for dense text, it’s a great option when you’re aiming to draw a viewer’s attention to a few words or phrases.

Download at Urban Fonts

Free for personal use.

12. Sacramento

 

 

This casual, funky font is a throwback to styles of the 1960s — perfect for large signs or advertisements aiming to create a vintage feel.

Download at: 1001 Fonts

Free for personal and commercial use.

13. Sophia

Undoubtedly one of the more feminine, charming fonts in the list, Sophia uses wide and thin strokes to appear beautifully hand-drawn. This font would work perfectly for any design calling for a soft, graceful feel.

Download at: Creative Booster

Free for personal and commercial use.

14. Special Valentine

 

 

Special Valentine is one of the few classic fonts where the uppercase and lowercase letters are similar sizing and aligned. This makes it useful for full paragraphs by ensuring easy readability, but it’s still elegant enough to also use for invitations or titles.

Download at Urban Fonts

Free for personal use.

15. Qaskin Black Personal Use

There’s something about this font that screams “outdoors-y” to me. I don’t know if it does the same for you, but regardless, Qaskin Black is an unusual calligraphy font, seeming more tough and rustic than the others.

Download at Font Space

Free for personal use.

What Google’s GDPR Compliance Efforts Mean for Your Data: Two Urgent Actions

Posted by willcritchlow

It should be quite obvious for anyone that knows me that I’m not a lawyer, and therefore that what follows is not legal advice. For anyone who doesn’t know me: I’m not a lawyer, I’m certainly not your lawyer, and what follows is definitely not legal advice.

With that out of the way, I wanted to give you some bits of information that might feed into your GDPR planning, as they come up more from the marketing side than the pure legal interpretation of your obligations and responsibilities under this new legislation. While most legal departments will be considering the direct impacts of the GDPR on their own operations, many might miss the impacts that other companies’ (namely, in this case, Google’s) compliance actions have on your data.

But I might be getting a bit ahead of myself: it’s quite possible that not all of you know what the GDPR is, and why or whether you should care. If you do know what it is, and you just want to get to my opinions, go ahead and skip down the page.

What is the GDPR?

The tweet-length version is that the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is new EU legislation covering data protection and privacy for EU citizens, and it applies to all companies offering goods or services to people in the EU.

Even if you aren’t based in the EU, it applies to your company if you have customers who are, and it has teeth (fines of up to the greater of 4% of global revenue or EUR20m). It comes into force on May 25. You have probably heard about it through the myriad organizations who put you on their email list without asking and are now emailing you to “opt back in.”

In most companies, it will not fall to the marketing team to research everything that has to change and achieve compliance, though it is worth getting up to speed with at least the high-level outline and in particular its requirements around informed consent, which is:

“…any freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.”

As always, when laws are made about new technology, there are many questions to be resolved, and indeed, jokes to be made:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

But my post today isn’t about what you should do to get compliant — that’s specific to your circumstances — and a ton has been written about this already:

My intention is not to write a general guide, but rather to warn you about two specific things you should be doing with analytics (Google Analytics in particular) as a result of changes Google is making because of GDPR.

Unexpected consequences of GDPR

When you deal directly with a person in the EU, and they give you personally identifiable information (PII) about themselves, you are typically in what is called the “data controller” role. The GDPR also identifies another role, which it calls “data processor,” which is any other company your company uses as a supplier and which handles that PII. When you use a product like Google Analytics on your website, Google is taking the role of data processor. While most of the restrictions of the GDPR apply to you as the controller, the processor must also comply, and it’s here that we see some potentially unintended (but possibly predictable) consequences of the legislation.

Google is unsurprisingly seeking to minimize their risk (I say it’s unsurprising because those GDPR fines could be as large as $4.4 billion based on last year’s revenue if they get it wrong). They are doing this firstly by pushing as much of the obligation onto you (the data controller) as possible, and secondly, by going further by default than the GDPR requires and being more aggressive than the regulation requires in shutting down accounts that infringe their terms (regardless of whether the infringement also infringes the GDPR).

This is entirely rational — with GA being in most cases a product offered for free, and the value coming to Google entirely in the aggregate, it makes perfect sense to limit their risks in ways that don’t degrade their value, and to just kick risky setups off the platform rather than taking on extreme financial risk for individual free accounts.

It’s not only Google, by the way. There are other suppliers doing similar things which will no doubt require similar actions, but I am focusing on Google here simply because GA is pervasive throughout the web marketing world. Some companies are even going as far as shutting down entirely for EU citizens (like unroll.me). See this Twitter thread of others.

Consequence 1: Default data retention settings for GA will delete your data

Starting on May 25, Google will be changing the default for data retention, meaning that if you don’t take action, certain data older than the cutoff will be automatically deleted.

You can read more about the details of the change on Krista Seiden’s personal blog (Krista works at Google, but this post is written in her personal capacity).

The reason I say that this isn’t strictly a GDPR thing is that it is related to changes Google is making on their end to ensure that they comply with their obligations as a data processor. It gives you tools you might need but isn’t strictly related to your GDPR compliance. There is no particular “right” answer to the question of how long you need to/should be/are allowed to keep this data stored in GA under the GDPR, but by my reading, given that it shouldn’t be PII anyway (see below) it isn’t really a GDPR question for most organizations. In particular, there is no particular reason to think that Google’s default is the correct/mandated/only setting you can choose under the GDPR.

Action: Review the promises being made by your legal team and your new privacy policy to understand the correct timeline setting for your org. In the absence of explicit promises to your users, my understanding is that you can retain any of this data you were allowed to capture in the first place unless you receive a deletion request against it. So while most orgs will have at least some changes to make to privacy policies at a minimum, most GA users can change back to retain this data indefinitely.

Consequence 2: Google is deleting GA accounts for capturing PII

It has long been against the Terms of Service to store any personally identifiable information (PII) in Google Analytics. Recently, though, it appears that Google has become far more diligent in checking for the presence of PII and robust in their handling of accounts found to contain any. Put more simply, Google will delete your account if they find PII.

It’s impossible to know for sure that this is GDPR-related, but being able if necessary to demonstrate to regulators that they are taking strict actions against anyone violating their PII-related terms is an obvious move for Google to reduce the risk they face as a Data Processor. It makes particular sense in an area where the vast majority of accounts are free accounts. Much like the previous point, and the reason I say that this is related to Google’s response to the GDPR coming into force, is that it would be perfectly possible to get your users’ permission to record their data in third-party services like GA, and fully comply with the regulations. Regardless of the permissions your users give you, Google’s GDPR-related crackdown (and heavier enforcement of the related terms that have been present for some time) means that it’s a new and greater risk than it was before.

Action: Audit your GA profile and implementation for PII risks:

  • There are various ways you can search within GA itself to find data that could be personally identifying in places like page titles, URLs, custom data, etc. (see these two excellent guides)
  • You can also audit your implementation by reviewing rules in tag manager and/or reviewing the code present on key pages. The most likely suspects are the places where people log in, take key actions on your site, give you additional personal information, or check out

Don’t take your EU law advice from big US tech companies

The internal effort and coordination required at Google to do their bit to comply even “just” as data processor is significant. Unfortunately, there are strong arguments that this kind of ostensibly user-friendly regulation which incurs outsize compliance burdens on smaller companies will cement the duopoly and dominance of Google and Facebook and enables them to pass the costs and burdens of compliance onto sectors that are already struggling.

Regardless of the intended or unintended consequences of the regulation, it seems clear to me that we shouldn’t be basing our own businesses’ (and our clients’) compliance on self-interested advice and actions from the tech giants. No matter how impressive their own compliance, I’ve been hugely underwhelmed by guidance content they’ve put out. See, for example, Google’s GDPR “checklist” — not exactly what I’d hope for:

Client Checklist: As a marketer we know you need to select products that are compliant and use personal data in ways that are compliant. We are committed to complying with the GDPR and would encourage you to check in on compliance plans within your own organisation. Key areas to think about:  How does your organisation ensure user transparency and control around data use? Do you explain to your users the types of data you collect and for what purposes? Are you sure that your organisation has the right consents in place where these are needed under the GDPR? Do you have all of the relevant consents across your ad supply chain? Does your organisation have the right systems to record user preferences and consents? How will you show to regulators and partners that you meet the principles of the GDPR and are an accountable organisation?

So, while I’m not a lawyer, definitely not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice, if you haven’t already received any advice, I can say that you probably can’t just follow Google’s checklist to get compliant. But you should, as outlined above, take the specific actions you need to take to protect yourself and your business from their compliance activities.

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GDPR: What it Means for Google Analytics & Online Marketing

Posted by Angela_Petteys

If you’ve been on the Internet at all in the past few months, you’ve probably seen plenty of notices about privacy policy updates from one service or another. As a marketer, a few of those notices have most likely come from Google.

With the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) set to go into effect on May 25th, 2018, many Internet services have been scrambling to get in compliance with the new standards — and Google is no exception. Given the nature of the services Google provides to marketers, GDPR absolutely made some significant changes in how they conduct business. And, in turn, some marketers may have to take steps to make sure their use of Google Analytics is allowable under the new rules. But a lot of marketers aren’t entirely sure what exactly GDPR is, what it means for their jobs, and what they need to do to follow the rules.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a very broad reform that gives citizens who live in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland more control over how their personal data is collected and used online. GDPR introduces a lot of new rules and if you’re up for a little light reading, you can check out the full text of the regulation online. But here are a few of the most significant changes:

  • Companies and other organizations have to be more transparent and clearly state what information they’re collecting, what it will be used for, how they’re collecting it, and if that information will be shared with anyone else. They can also only collect information that is directly relevant for its intended use. If the organization collecting that information later decides to use it for a different purpose, they must get permission again from each individual.
  • GDPR also spells out how that information needs to be given to consumers. That information can no longer be hidden in long privacy policies filled with legal jargon. The information in disclosures needs to be written in plain language and “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.” Individuals also have to take an action which clearly gives their consent to their information being collected. Pre-checked boxes and notices that rely on inaction as a way of giving consent will no longer be allowed. If a user does not agree to have their information collected, you cannot block them from accessing content based on that fact.
  • Consumers also have the right to see what information a company has about them, request that incorrect information be corrected, revoke permission for their data to be saved, and have their data exported so they can switch to another service. If someone decides to revoke their permission, the organization needs to not only remove that information from their systems in a timely manner, they also need to have it removed from anywhere else they’ve shared that information.
  • Organizations must also be able to give proof of the steps they’re taking to be in compliance. This can include keeping records of how people opt in to being on marketing lists and documentation regarding how customer information is being protected.
  • Once an individual’s information has been collected, GDPR sets out requirements for how that information is stored and protected. If a data breach occurs, consumers must be notified within 72 hours. Failing to comply with GDPR can come with some very steep consequences. If a data breach occurs because of non-compliance, a company can be hit with fines as high as €20 million or 4% of the company’s annual global revenue, whichever amount is greater.

Do US-based businesses need to worry about GDPR?

Just because a business isn’t based in Europe doesn’t necessarily mean they’re off the hook as far as GDPR goes. If a company is based in the United States (or elsewhere outside the EEA), but conducts business in Europe, collects data about users from Europe, markets themselves in Europe, or has employees who work in Europe, GDPR applies to them, too.

Even if you’re working with a company that only conducts business in a very specific geographic area, you might occasionally get some visitors to your site from people outside of that region. For example, let’s say a pizza restaurant in Detroit publishes a blog post about the history of pizza on their site. It’s a pretty informative post and as a result, it brings in some traffic from pizza enthusiasts outside the Detroit area, including a few visitors from Spain. Would GDPR still apply in that sort of situation?

As long as it’s clear that a company’s goods or services are only available to consumers in the United States (or another country outside the EEA), GDPR does not apply. Going back to the pizza restaurant example, the other content on their site is written in English, emphasizes their Detroit location, and definitely doesn’t make any references to delivery to Spain, so those few page views from Spain wouldn’t be anything to worry about.

However, let’s say another US-based company has a site with the option to view German and French language versions of pages, lets customers pay with Euros, and uses marketing language that refers to European customers. In that situation, GDPR would apply since they are more clearly soliciting business from people in Europe.

Google Analytics & GDPR

If you use Google Analytics, Google is your data processor and since they handle data from people all over the world, they’ve had to take steps to become compliant with GDPR standards. However, you/your company are considered the data controller in this relationship and you will also need to take steps to make sure your Google Analytics account is set up to meet the new requirements.

Google has been rolling out some new features to help make this happen. In Analytics, you will now have the ability to delete the information of individual users if they request it. They’ve also introduced data retention settings which allow you to control how long individual user data is saved before being automatically deleted. Google has set this to be 26 months as the default setting, but if you are working with a US-based company that strictly conducts business in the United States, you can set it to never expire if you want to — at least until data protection laws change here, too. It’s important to note that this only applies to data about individual users and events, so aggregate data about high-level information like page views won’t be impacted by this.

To make sure you’re using Analytics in compliance with GDPR, a good place to start is by auditing all the data you collect to make sure it’s all relevant to its intended purpose and that you aren’t accidentally sending any personally identifiable information (PII) to Google Analytics. Sending PII to Google Analytics was already against its Terms of Service, but very often, it happens by accident when information is pushed through in a page URL. If it turns out you are sending PII to Analytics, you’ll need to talk to your web development team about how to fix it because using filters in Analytics to block it isn’t enough — you need to make sure it’s never sent to Google Analytics in the first place.

PII includes anything that can potentially be used to identify a specific person, either on its own or when combined with another piece of information, like an email address, a home address, a birthdate, a zip code, or an IP address. IP addresses weren’t always considered PII, but GDPR classifies them as an online identifier. Don’t worry, though — you can still get geographical insights about the visitors to your site. All you have to do is turn on IP anonymization and the last portion of an IP address will be replaced with a zero, so you can still get a general idea of where your traffic is coming from, although it will be a little less precise.

If you use Google Tag Manager, IP anonymization is pretty easy. Just open your Google Analytics tag or its settings variable, choose “More Settings,” and select “Fields to Set.” Then, choose “anonymizeip” in the “Field Name” box, enter “true” in the “Value” box,” and save your changes.

If you don’t use GTM, talk to your web development team about editing the Google Analytics code to anonymize IP addresses.

Pseudonymous information like user IDs and transaction IDs are still acceptable under GDPR, but it needs to be protected. User and transaction IDs need to be alphanumeric database identifiers, not written out in plain text.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to take the steps Google has mentioned in some of those emails they’ve sent out. If you’re based outside the EEA and GDPR applies to you, go into your Google Analytics account settings and accept the updated terms of processing. If you’re based in the EEA, the updated terms have already been included in your data processing terms. If GDPR applies to you, you’ll also need to go into your organization settings and provide contact information for your organization.

Privacy policies, forms, & cookie notices

Now that you’ve gone through your data and checked your settings in Google Analytics, you need to update your site’s privacy policy, forms, and cookie notices. If your company has a legal department, it may be best to involve them in this process to make sure you’re fully compliant.

Under GDPR, a site’s privacy policy needs to be clearly written in plain language and answer basic questions like what information is being collected, why it’s being collected, how it’s being collected, who is collecting it, how it will be used, and if it will be shared with anyone else. If your site is likely to be visited by children, this information needs to be written simply enough for a child to be able to understand it.

Forms and cookie notices also need to provide that kind of information. Cookie consent forms with really vague, generic messages like, “We use cookies to give you a better experience and by using this site, you agree to our policy,” are not GDPR compliant.

GDPR & other types of marketing

The impact GDPR will have on marketers isn’t just limited to how you use Google Analytics. If you use some particular types of marketing in the course of your job, you may have to make a few other changes, too.

Referral deals

If you work with a company that does “refer a friend”-type promotions where a customer has to enter information for a friend to receive a discount, GDPR is going to make a difference for you. Giving consent for data to be collected is a key part of GDPR and in these sorts of promotions, the person being referred can’t clearly consent to their information being collected. Under GDPR, it is possible to continue this practice, but it all depends on how that information is being used. If you store the information of the person being referred and use it for marketing purposes, it would be a violation of GDPR standards. However, if you don’t store that information or process it, you’re OK.

Email marketing

If you’re an email marketer and already follow best industry standards by doing things like only sending messages to those who clearly opt in to your list and making it easy for people to unsubscribe, the good news is that you’re probably in pretty good shape. As far as email marketing goes, GDPR is going to have the biggest impact on those who do things that have already been considered sketchy, like buying lists of contacts or not making it clear when someone is signing up to receive emails from you.

Even if you think you’re good to go, it’s still a good time to review your contacts and double check that your European contacts have indeed opted into being on your list and that it was clear what they were signing up for. If any of your contacts don’t have their country listed or you’re not sure how they opted in, you may want to either remove them from your list or put them on a separate segment so they don’t get any messages from you until you can get that figured out. Even if you’re confident your European contacts have opted in, there’s no harm in sending out an email asking them to confirm that they would like to continue receiving messages from you.

Creating a double opt-in process isn’t mandatory, but it would be a good idea since it helps remove any doubt over whether or not a person has agreed to being on your list. While you’re at it, take a look at the forms people use to sign up to be on your list and make sure they’re in line with GDPR standards, with no pre-checked boxes and the fact that they’re agreeing to receive emails from you is very clear.

For example, here’s a non-GDPR compliant email signup option I recently saw on a checkout page. They tell you what they’re planning to send to you, but the fact that it’s a pre-checked box placed underneath the more prominent “Place Order” button makes it very easy for people to unintentionally sign up for emails they might not actually want.

Jimmy Choo, on the other hand, also gives you the chance to sign up for emails while making a purchase, but since the box isn’t pre-checked, it’s good to go under GDPR.

Marketing automation

As is the case with standard email marketing, marketing automation specialists will need to make sure they have clear consent from everyone who has agreed to be part of their lists. Check your European contacts to make sure you know how they’ve opted in. Also review the ways people can opt into your list to make sure it’s clear what, exactly, they’re signing up for so that your existing contacts would be considered valid.

If you use marketing automation to re-engage customers who have been inactive for a while, you may need to get permission to contact them again, depending on how long it has been since they last interacted with you.

Some marketing automation platforms have functionality which will be impacted by GDPR. Lead scoring, for example, is now considered a form of profiling and you will need to get permission from individuals to have their information used in that way. Reverse IP tracking also needs consent.

It’s also important to make sure your marketing automation platform and CRM system are set to sync automatically. If a person on your list unsubscribes and continues receiving emails because of a lapse between the two, you could get in trouble for not being GDPR compliant.

Gated content

A lot of companies use gated content, like free reports, whitepapers, or webinars, as a way to generate leads. The way they see it, the person’s information serves as the price of admission. But since GDPR prohibits blocking access to content if a person doesn’t consent to their information being collected, is gated content effectively useless now?

GDPR doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of gated content, but there are now higher standards for collecting user information. Basically, if you’re going to have gated content, you need to be able to prove that the information you collect is necessary for you to provide the deliverable. For example, if you were organizing a webinar, you’d be justified in collecting email addresses since attendees need to be sent a link to join in. You’d have a harder time claiming an email address was required for something like a whitepaper since that doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered via email. And of course, as with any other form on a site, forms for gated content need to clearly state all the necessary information about how the information being collected will be used.

If you don’t get a lot of leads from European users anyway, you may want to just block all gated content from European visitors. Another option would be to go ahead and make that information freely available to visitors from Europe.

Google AdWords

If you use Google AdWords to advertise to European residents, Google already required publishers and advertisers to get permission from end users by putting disclaimers on the landing page, but GDPR will be making some changes to these requirements. Google will now be requiring publishers to get clear consent from individuals to have their information collected. Not only does this mean you have to give more information about how a person’s information will be used, you’ll also need to keep records of consent and tell users how they can opt out later on if they want to do so. If a person doesn’t give consent to having their information collected, Google will be making it possible to serve them non-personalized ads.

In the end

GDPR is a significant change and trying to grasp the full scope of its changes is pretty daunting. This is far from being a comprehensive guide, so if you have any questions about how GDPR applies to a particular client you’re working with, it may be best to get in touch with their legal department or team. GDPR will impact some industries more than others, so it’s best to get some input from someone who truly understands the law and how it applies to that specific business.

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